Top 5 Exercises for Elbow Pain

Elbow pain can be a frustrating symptom presented in our clinics at Surrey Physio. There are several reasons why you may have elbow pain. Most likely the symptom of pain arises from repetitive movements/activities, trauma, or medical conditions like arthritis. The most common diagnoses are tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, and they can be very chronic or longstanding.

The elbow joint consists of the arm bone (humerus) and the two forearm bones (radius and ulna). The humerus connects to the ulna at the elbow joint, while the radius is connected to the ulna just below the elbow joint. The joint is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue and is stabilised by ligaments, muscles, and tendons. The biceps and triceps muscles cross the joint and are responsible for bending and extending the elbow, while the forearm muscles control rotation of the forearm. Nerves and blood vessels also run through the elbow joint and provide nutrients and signals from the nervous system to keep the joint healthy.

Underlying issues may arise from the muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and the nerve supply. The most common presentations we see in clinic are below:

Lateral epicondylitis (Tennis elbow)
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons, resulting in pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.

Medial epicondylitis (Golfer’s elbow)
Golfer's elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons, resulting in pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow.

Elbow arthritis
Elbow arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the cartilage in the elbow joint, resulting in pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. This is not common.

Nursemaid’s elbow
A pulled elbow, also known as nursemaid's elbow, occurs when a child's elbow is pulled or yanked, causing a partial dislocation of the radius bone from the elbow joint, resulting in pain, swelling, and limited mobility.

Olecranon bursitis
The olecranon bursa is a fluid sac that surrounds the pointy part of the elbow to provide protection to the joint. However, it can become inflamed for a few reasons including trauma, repetitive movements, and infections. Most often patients present with swelling and pain.

Other conditions may cause elbow pain such as neck pain referring down to the elbow. This is commonly seen when a nerve is irritated in the neck causing symptoms at the elbow.

The treatment for elbow pain depends on the underlying cause and severity of the pain.

Most elbow pain will improve with conservative treatment like, rest, activity modification and pain relief. For more severe pain, or if the pain is due to an underlying medical condition such as arthritis, more aggressive treatment may be necessary. This can include physiotherapy to help strengthen the muscles around the elbow, corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain, or surgery to repair or replace damaged tissue.

At Surrey Physio we conduct in-depth examinations and gain information to determine the underlying issues. We ask about the history of your injury and your activity levels amongst other things to best develop a plan for you. We care about your goals and work with you to get you back to what you love doing the most. If you are experiencing elbow pain it is important to see us in clinic as soon as possible, this is the quickest way to be seen by a healthcare professional. Ignoring elbow pain can lead to long term discomfort and further complications (like persistent stiffness or pain) so it’s best to get it seen to.

We have developed 5 of our top exercises using our exercise software Rehab My Patient. Give them ago!!

Forearm flexor wall stretch

Place your hand on a wall with your fingers pointing down towards the floor, and straighten your arm. This exercise helps stretch the forearm flexor muscles, and can help with repetitive strain injuries to the wrist and elbow as well as golfer's elbow.

Forearm extensor muscles

Hold your arm out in front of you, straighten it, rotate your arm inwards, and bend your wrist back. Hold this position to create a stretch. This exercise stretches the forearm extensor muscles, and can help with tennis elbow pain and other repetitive strain injuries.

Elbow supination with band

Bend your arm to 90 degrees, and holding a band in your other hand, rotate your forearm to feel tension in the band. The palm will start facing up and should finish facing down. You will feel a tension across the outer part of the elbow. This will strengthen the supinator muscles around the elbow.

Eccentric Wrist Strengthening | Tennis Elbow

Rest your arm on a table with your palm facing down, and hold a 1-2kg dumbbell. Lift your hand upwards using your other hand, and then with a controlled movement let the weight pull your hand back down. At the bottom, repeat by lifting your own hand upwards again, and then letting the weight pull your hand back down. Eccentric exercises are a very effective way to rehabilitate the wrist, forearm and elbow, and this can be especially useful for tennis elbow.

Triceps curl extension standing both hands band

Hold an exercise tube or band with both hands and wrap it around a chair and straighten your arms creating a resistance in the band. This exercise predominantly strengthens the triceps muscle at the back and side of your upper arms.

Elbow pain can be caused by a variety of factors and can be a frustrating and limiting condition. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and severity of the pain and may include conservative measures such as rest, pain medication, or more aggressive treatment such as physiotherapy or surgery. Prevention involves taking steps to avoid injury to the elbow joint and maintaining a regular exercise routine. If you experience elbow pain, see us in clinic to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

(Therapists reading this page, these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises If you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).